The Ministry of Mentorship has taken on a greater role in the world-wide church. What is Mentorship and how can we come to the place of maximising from its many benefits?
Barnabas and Paul showcased the fruits of a true mentoring ministry. To better understand the impact of this relationship, we need to look at some background concerning these two individuals. Barnabas was a key leader as the early church was getting off the ground. Let’s consider some of his notable qualities:
1) He sold property and brought forth the revenue to the Apostles – Acts 4:36-37
2) He was an Encourager and was willing to take risks – Acts 4:36-37
3) He was full of the Holy Ghost and Faith – Acts 11:22-24
Barnabas and Paul
Paul (Saul) had taken the lead as one of the prime tormentors of the early church. That all changed in his encounter with God on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:3-4). The one who persecuted the church was about to become its prime evangelist. It was at this period when Barnabas sought out Paul.
Why did Barnabas take great risk in reaching out to Paul when others would not? He believed in Paul and what had transpired in his life. This is one of the hallmarks of a true mentor – believing in the potential of an individual. Remember, Barnabas was one who was already held in high regard amongst the early church. He possessed the qualities and experience that a mentee like Paul would need at this time. One of the reasons for failure in some mentoring relationships is due to people assuming mentoring roles when they have yet to be proven. This was not the case with Barnabas.
A critical moment arrived when Paul was brought into Jerusalem after his conversion. The disciples feared Paul, but Barnabas held his ground in supporting him.
And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:26-27).
There will be times when a mentor is called upon to stand on behalf of their mentee, oftentimes at risk of their own reputation. A true mentor recognises such moments and does what is necessary.
Barnabas and Saul worked together for a year in Antioch and it was here where Paul’s giftings in the area of teaching and outreach to the Gentiles emerged. Soon after, Barnabas and Saul were sent to Jerusalem with relief money for the church. One year after they were appointed, along with John Mark, they embarked on their first Missionary Journey.
Barnabas and John Mark
The Bible reveals a rift that developed between Barnabas and Paul over the matter of John Mark on their first Missionary Journey. A separation took place resulting in Barnabas taking John Mark to Cyprus. Mark later re-emerged on the scene and was declared by Paul as being profitable (2 Tim 4:11). He later became the writer of the Gospel of Mark.
It’s more than likely that Barnabas had a major impact upon John Mark at this delicate stage in his life. John Mark may not have been up to the rigors of Paul’s aggressive missionary thrusts at this time. However, we see him prevailing in the end. Would John Mark be left as a failure or would he be strengthened and encouraged to serve another day?
Barnabas came alongside Paul during a season when his zeal to persecute the early Christians was transformed into a passion to reveal Christ. Barnabas stood up for Paul when others were doubtful and fearful. Barnabas also stood by a young man who was not quite ready for the demands of missionary efforts. He withdrew from the limelight, but took time to mentor and encourage John Mark.
We all need Barnabas’s in our respective walks with God. At the same time, we have the opportunity and responsibility to be a Barnabas to others. Let your focus be on the “potential in people” as opposed to highlighting faults and short-comings. Let’s encourage one another in love and truth so that the body of Christ is united and strengthened. Barnabas was a key figure whose ministry proved pivotal in the growth of the early church. He serves as a model for the church of our day as we prepare for another Pentecost.